An Ambitious and Concerned Workforce

Walking Business People

Most typical employees aspire to lofty career goals, while at the same time, grapple with a degree of uncertainty as to how they’ll get there. Perhaps more nerve-wracking is if they will ever achieve what they want in their careers.

Recently, Addison Group’s third edition of its annual Workplace Survey examined education, retirement concerns, workplace benefits and the gender gap in the workplace in an effort to provide human resources professionals and recruiters an inside look into the thoughts and concerns of US employees. The survey shows a large portion of the workforce is not only unsatisfied with their jobs and career progression, but also concerned that they won’t have the financial means to retire when they want to.

In an age where the market for top talent is tight, HR professionals must be aware of myriad workplace issues that factor into attracting talent, and then retaining it. They must realize that more than ever, employees feel uncertain about the future, and as much as they want opportunities to climb the ladder, they also desire employment with companies that give them stability and benefits.


Overall, it’s a complex time in the workforce, but Addison Group has a few key findings from the Workplace Survey that may help hiring managers better understand the employee landscape.

  • Over a third of employees are unhappy in their current position: 29% of US employees are unhappy with their career progression, and 41% believe they are not on the path to their dream job.
  • Employees anxious they aren’t on a path to a successful career: 55% believe they need to be doing more to get where they want to be in the future.
  • Benefits matter: 43% of employees agreed that great work-life balance and 42% believe that strong benefits are reasons to stay at their current job.
  • Advanced degrees are a worthy investment: 62% of US employees perceive advanced degrees as being worth the money invested, and 80% of employees who went for the advanced degree believe that to be true.

Based on these results, we’ve identified a few areas in which HR and recruiters can help employees ameliorate their concerns.

Setting employees up for success

The fact is, not everyone is going to love their job, and it’s not the job of an employer to create positions specifically tailored to an employee’s interest. However, both recruiters and HR professionals need to have a sense of employee and candidate desires to understand what is really going to make them stay beyond just the money.

Management teams and executive leadership need to stay in tune with the employees they lead. Keep in mind a candidate’s or employee’s career goals when thinking about where they best fit in an organization, or whether they are a good fit or not in the first place. Fostering feelings of purpose and belonging go a long way in helping employees feel satisfied in their jobs.

Education opens doors but it’s not the end all, be all

This may not be the most surprising revelation, but a candidate with an advanced degree has a higher chance of more, and possibly better, opportunities. Most employees recognize and understand this, which is often the driving force behind deciding to attend graduate school. However, candidates and employees need to understand that an MBA isn’t a guarantee in.

Recruiters and HR know this as well. It increases your value on paper, however, the work still needs to be demonstrated. It’s likely that a candidate with an MBA will be looked at closer for a job, but unlikely they will be chosen just for that fact alone. Use the interview process to truly vet candidates for a role. While more candidates are investing in MBAs, which is a good thing, there is a greater need to focus on some of the intangibles like work ethic and the right experience to better predict a good employee. Be sure to make it clear to candidates and employees that while their education is valued, they are being evaluated on a 360-degree basis.

Life beyond work

Across the board, employees agree that salary is often the number one factor when considering a job. Yet, employees are also aware that intangible benefits – “work-life balance” – is of growing importance for staying in a position. Things like flex hours, work from home days and strong education or employee mentorship programs are some easy, straightforward perks that can make a workplace more attractive to employees. Knowing that this can be a key differentiator for employees, is necessary for attracting the right kind of talent.

Staying on top of workplace culture and trends is a necessary part of the job for recruiters and hiring managers. Being knowledgeable about overall employee sentiment and understanding a candidate’s personal desires goes a long way in finding the right fit for a company. In a competitive candidate-driven market it enables you to not only attract talent, but also retain it.

MORE: The Benefits of Promoting Positive Company Culture

Kelly Gorham

Kelly Gorham
Kelly Gorham is president of Addison Group’s healthcare practice.

Kelly Gorham

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